It's here! I got my new Bartlett Genesis kiln controller today. I still haven't had a chance to go through all the diagnostics info yet, but I did install it and set it up for a glaze firing with a cooling cycle, which it is firing right now.
Out of the box I was disappointed with how small the screen is. I thought it would be bigger. However, after using it for a few minutes it didn't bother me at all. It's plenty big and the 'buttons' are easy to use. The screen and entire panel has some sort of protective overlay that protects it. It feels a little odd since I'm so used to the feel of a phone touch screen, but I get that it needs to be very durable in a studio environment. The screen is very responsive.
The system for setting up a firing is a little different than the controllers we've used in the past, but it's still very simple and intuitive. From the home screen you press 'Load' and select which type of firing you want to do, either glaze, bisque, glass or custom. Then from home home screen you push edit to make changes to the program. You have the usual choices of cones and speeds, as well as a cooling cycle. The cooling cycle is full drop to 1900F, then 150 per hour to 1500F. At this point that cooling cycle cannot be changed, but I spoke with Bartlett and they're open to changing that or adding in a piggyback system where one of the 12 custom programs becomes the cooling cycle. They have actually been very receptive to feedback about programming improvements. So for now if you want a custom cooling cycle, you'll have to do it as part of a full custom ramp program.
For my firing today I just recreated the fast glaze program to cone 6 in a custom user program, with my own cooling segment added to it. Filling out a custom program is incredibly simple because it shows all of the segments on the screen all at once. You can add and delete steps as needed. Very nice. You can store 12 user programs with up to 32 segments each, so those of you that do super fancy firings (glazenerd, I'm talking to you) can do anything you can dream up. You can also put in a name for each program, so you don't have to keep a list hanging on the wall.
During the firing, the screen shows all 3 thermocouple readings as well as the current set point for the ramp. I really like this since before you would have to scroll through each reading separately.
Over all, I think it's a really great first version of a touch screen controller, especially for custom programs. Is it worth $329 to replace an old controller? That's for you to decide. Is it worth $125 to upgrade on a new kiln? Absolutely, especially since more features will be added in the future. It's Wi-Fi enabled, so software upgrades can be done easily. Bartlett said there's also talk of a phone app that will communicate with the controller, but there's a lot of liability issues related to that feature that must be dealt with before it become a reality. Currently, if you want external control then you can invest in Bartlett's KISS software.